Wow, what an emotionally draining week this has been, but I’m not going to let it break my communicative spirit! I was told in one day that my writing might cause my children to suffer negative ramifications down the road; I was asked, “Are you doing this to get attention?” (THIS, meaning writing, or as it was phrased “It’s TMI!”), and I was told, “Nobody wants to hear how F’d up you really are!” I’m thinking a lot about the things that were said and how hurtful they were. I’m sitting with them, allowing the words to penetrate my psyche in attempts to understand myself. I don’t know for sure which statements apply directly, if any. Perhaps the above diction is just a cover for something else, or maybe I should reconsider how I go about orally filleting myself, (Ouch, that doesn’t sound good, but hopefully you get my point.) but either way, I’m getting to the bottom of it.
I think as beings, we, our species, make all sorts of errors that may or may not have predictable outcomes. (Not too mention, philosophically speaking, how can we ever measure what’s good or bad?) In addition, I think we all want attention and I certainly know I do, who doesn’t? I want to be loved, liked, held, touched, thought highly of, memorable, etc. I will go a step further to say I believe we all have the tendency to be a little nutty at times. And yes, I am eccentric (Aren’t we all in our own way?), and maybe it doesn’t bode well for everyone that I purposely examine myself under a public microscope, but the naysayers’ don’t have to like it or even respect it, because its not theirs to own, its mine and that’s me! (So take this job and shove it!)
Seriously, I don’t want to hurt anyone (especially my children) in my creative endeavors at finding love, or sanity, because relationships are more important to me than writing (love and sanity), and that puts me in a jar with a bunch of sour dills. So I’m putting myself on a semi, temporary, verbal-lockdown, pertaining to certain subjects/people-for now. Instead, I’m going back to the subject that’s really hard, (even for me), to talk about, my childhood. Mainly because I think the answers are there, or in hopes of finding a part of myself that’s lost or buried.
So here we go, don’t leave me now.
My Mother and Cathy left Texas after about six weeks of doing who knows what! I don’t remember the exact details other than we ended up living back in Atlanta with my mom’s next boyfriend.
I was around four or five years old (and going on my ninth address-definitely a “trashy” qualifier.) when we moved in with Hal-Haaal. He worked for the telephone company and drove a wide, white pick-up truck with the old blue Bell South emblem displayed on the side. I remember seeing the curve of a yellow hard-hat in the front of the cab so I guess he must have worked up on the lines. The boyfriend lived in a tiny 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom circa 1940 boxy, sad, dark house. As a little girl the place seemed to rest at the end of a really long driveway on a busy road.
I think we there during the winter, because I remember walking the snow-covered, driveway by myself to catch the school, or daycare bus. I know it must have been around Christmas time because I can still see the tacky red, orange, yellow, green and blue blinking lights flickering from shabby rooftops. I don’t have any memories of being at Hals house during any other season. That makes sense considering how fast she went through men, and how quick she was to just pick up and move. (I too adopted that habit later in life-the moving part.) We always moved mid year too, and like I mentioned on my last post, luckily I was friendly enough to make new friends and street smart enough to reinvent myself.
Music is the background for my story, or at least it helps me piece together a time line. Billy Joel’s, lyrics, “bottle of red, ooh bottle of white,” and “Saturday I said I’m sorry, Sunday night it happened all again” always played throughout the rooms of the square house. Frequently I would sit at the kitchen card-table playing with play-dough while my mother enjoyed her valium-passed out on the sofa. I think I was content just to have her there, her presence, although she was anything but present. I was happy she wasn’t moaning and ranting about some random aliment, or fighting in a jealous rage with Hank. Those days when the house was warm, and she didn’t burden me with more than my little girl brain could comprehend stand out as somewhat peaceful and nostalgic.
There were other times when the living wasn’t so easy. My mother suffered from back pain during her many histrionic spells! (Probably the waterbed! Oh yea, with the dark wood surrounding it too, can’tcha picture it? What a beauty!) She combat crawled on the hardwood floors to the bathroom so that she could pop some pills in order to make the pain go away. It frightened me to see her that way, but I was scared of her anyway. I don’t know why, and maybe I’m mixing up the story here, but she’d hiss and scream at him on those nights. One evening when they were fighting. I remember hiding out in the bathroom one night because I didn’t feel well. I allowed the water wash over me and cleanse the pain of neediness away. I wanted my mothers attention that night but I never felt like I could bother her. It was never an option; her drama was always top priority!
I think I had a bladder infection because one day at daycare I had trouble in the bathroom. All the kids and I were sitting on the carpeted floor listening to someone reading out-loud and I had to go, but felt like I couldn’t. I kept running to the toilet but when I’d sit down only a drop or two would come out and it felt so uncomfortable.
She left me at the KinderCare many nights, I slept on a cot that hung so low I could feel the cold from up from the floor. I don’t know her reasons for leaving me there, maybe it was so she could work, but I hated it! It made me feel so small, vulnerable, unloved and afraid. I would curl up in a ball under the thin blanket with my eyes closed tight and prayed the only way I knew how. She would pick me up in what felt like the middle of the night and I felt relieved to see her, but so shutdown to her as well. I was innocent and I never felt safe with her, but she was all I had and in a way, I was all she had too, she just couldn’t see it. My Maw-Maw (RIP) told me I was the only thing keeping my mother from venturing into the depths of insanity.
A few years later my mother registered me at yet another school, I was in first grade by this time. She told the principal and teacher that I was allowed to go to the bathroom whenever I wanted- without asking permission first! I was a proud, big-eyed, skinny, raga-muffin that day. I felt loved by the gesture, and it felt good to be the recipient of her affection.
As a child I was exposed to images and language I shouldn’t have heard, and I felt responsible for things that were out of my control. My therapist told me adults whose boundaries are crossed as kids sometimes grow up with a warped sense of appropriateness. I tend to lean in that direction and I don’t mind it necessarily, but it isn’t my intention to leave a path of destruction for others in my wake. With every challenge I face, I learn more about myself. Today I was forced to write about my childhood as opposed to my present and that was a gift. It’s painful to write about all these memories, but it’s cathartic as well. It’s interesting how a few days ago I felt stifled and censored, and now today I feel content and well served, and more importantly, I did it by myself.
Shit, that was tough, thanks for hanging in there with me! As my mother called me, Shanna Banana